Online investing on the Rise: What to look for?

Online investing, particularly in private capital markets, has experienced a significant uptick in popularity and accessibility in recent years, largely thanks to the innovations brought about by the JOBS Act. The Act’s regulations have democratized access to investment opportunities, allowing Americans over 18 years of age to engage in the private sector’s growth potential. We will delve into the online investing landscape, highlighting the ease with which investors can now participate, the challenges they face, and the due diligence required to make informed decisions. With platforms like Spark Exchange emerging to streamline the investment process and initiatives like KoreID Verified enhancing security, the sector is ripe for informed investors ready to explore. Here are the insights and red flags every investor should be aware of in this burgeoning space.

The Rise of Online Investing

Since the spike in 2019, online investing, or online capital formation, has become a major trend, set to increase as investors gain access to comprehensive information online to guide their investment decisions. The JOBS Act has played a pivotal role in this upward trajectory, simplifying the process for companies at any stage to raise capital through regulations like RegCF, RegD, and RegA+. For investors, the journey has never been more straightforward. In less than two minutes, one can invest in a private company, fulfilling all necessary SEC requirements and gaining instant connectivity to the company’s growth story.

The Investor Journey Online

Investing online is characterized by convenience and accessibility. With just a few clicks, investors can provide all required information and complete their investment, benefiting from the SEC’s mandated disclosures by the companies using the JOBS Act regulations (RegCF, RegD, and RegA+). This transparency ensures that investors can do their homework from anywhere, anytime, accessing all the information they need about a private company qualified by the SEC to raise capital online.

Challenges in Online Investing

Despite the streamlined process, challenges remain for those looking to invest in private companies. One primary concern is finding a centralized platform where potential investments are listed, with Spark Exchange being a notable emerging solution. However, the most significant challenge is verifying the legitimacy of companies. As online investing becomes more prevalent, ensuring a company’s authenticity before investing is crucial. Until solutions like KoreID Verified become standard, providing a Certificate of Authenticity for companies, investors must engage in rigorous due diligence to avoid scams and ensure their investments are sound.

Red Flags for Online Investors

Investors should be vigilant for several red flags when considering an online investment in private companies:

Registration of Offering: Verify if the company has registered its offering appropriately, with RegCF offerings showing a Form C and RegA+ offerings a Form 1A, both linked to the SEC website.

Leadership’s LinkedIn Profiles: Review the LinkedIn profiles of the founders and key executives to assess their commitment and background.  If they are not in LinkedIn major red flag, if they do not have the company listed run.

Broker-Dealer Association: Inquire about the name of the Broker-Dealer the company is working with.

Escrow Provider Details: Ask for the name of the escrow provider where funds are to be sent, ensuring financial transactions are secure.

Legal Counsel Verification: Request the name of the legal counsel who prepared the offering documents, adding a layer of legitimacy.

Company Registration Verification: Conduct an online search to confirm the legal registration of the company.

Website Transparency: The company’s website should transparently list the team, legal company name, and other essential details; the absence of this information is a red flag.

Educating Oneself is Key

The importance of educating oneself before making an investment in a private company cannot be overstated. Understanding the nuances of the JOBS Act and the rights it affords you as an investor is critical. Engaging in thorough due diligence, from verifying the offering’s registration to researching the company’s leadership and legal standing, is essential in choosing the right investment. The landscape of online investing in private capital markets is rich with opportunities, but it demands an informed and cautious approach. As the sector continues to evolve, empowered by regulatory advancements and technological innovations, investors equipped with the right knowledge and vigilance stand to benefit significantly from the growth potential of private companies.